Beauties and The Beasts-- The Beasts

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by wpbarlow, May 5, 2004.

  1. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    Following up on my list of my13 best looking motorcycles of all time; herein are
    presented motorcycles that, to me, are styling mistakes of the first order. I really didn’t want to call them ugly, but Webster defines ugly as “offensive to the sight” and these are to me. I know many of them are fine bikes that have a lot of redeeming characteristics that could make people want to own them, but not for me. I mean, and no disrespect to those of you who have any of them, I’d be embarrassed to be found dead in a ditch alongside almost all of them. There are as many “category” and “ties” here as individual bikes; and that’s because some choices are too hard to make.

    So without further ado

    13) Cagiva Gran Canyon- this is really a category pick, with the category being big trailie type bikes (or Adventure Tourers as the manufacturers call them in vain hopes of adding a little cachet). They’re pretty much all pretty weird looking and the Gran Canyon isn’t really any weirder than the rest. It’s just that my styling expectations are so high with Italians that my disappointment makes me call it out. I really feel bad about mentioning this category of bike because they are all excellent bikes across a really wide performance envelope: combining a level of on road, bad road, and even light trail work performance that has to be experienced to be believed. And the Gran Canyon is one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden. In this genre, special kudos/boos to KTM for the 640 and 950 Adventures: bikes that work as well as they are ugly. Looking like a desperate styling attempt to “be different”; they unfortunately succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. The flowing fairing/tank/seat treatment just gives me the willies. Nice exhaust setup, though.

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  2. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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  3. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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  4. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    12) Sacrilegious Euro Cruisers- Tie between Ducati Indiana, Moto Guzzi Nevada, and Norton Hi-Rider- three otherwise favored bikes taking the hit for a category. I picked these because I love the basic running gear upon which these models are built, and therefore the factory’s clothing them as choppers offended my sensibilities the most.

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  5. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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  6. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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  7. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    11) Triumph X75 Hurricane- I don’t know what Craig Vetter was taking that resulted in this coming from his fertile mind; and I sure can’t fathom what Triumph was thinking when they decided to put it into production: I’d guess desperation. Whatever the reason, the end result was a very compromised bike that handled poorly, stopped worse, was uncomfortable, and wasted that fine BSA engine. All for the sake of stacking 3 (easily grounded) pipes on one side.

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  8. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    10) Ducati Multi-Strada- I love the general concept and the chassis/engine changes that update the classic running gear package to the 21st century. And I applaud Pierre Terablance for his attempts to be different (while lamenting that he seems to be failing). But man, I just about gag whenever I see the fairing shape, the front fender, and the footpeg brackets on this thing. From the gas tank back its really quite attractive, but it looks like everything in front of it came off a mid 60’s Japanese styling design. Personal pity, as the bike works wonderfully.

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  9. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    9) 2000 Ducati MH900e- few of the magazines challenged Ducati for the looks of this bike. Cowards! Though I can appreciate Ducati's interest in making a few more bucks off a revered name associated with their history, and they way they marketed/sold it was certainly innovative; the bike just completely misses the mark in my opinion- starting with the tail section and working forward. Truth be told, the only thing I really like are the fins on the sump, and they’re fake. The seat may be the worst expression of café monoposto style ever made. I like this even less than the newly styled full fairing cum shark grill on the Ducati 750/900SS, which is saying a lot. They quickly sold every one, however.

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  10. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    8) Yamaha V-Max- I love it for what it is; both aesthetically as an “up yours” to all those who want to place limits on the rest of us “for our own good”, and for what and how it delivers (a lot, and quickly). But even after being in production over 15 years its hard for me to look at one and think anything but drug purity must have been really bad in the town where this thing was designed. You know how real small toy motorcycles look kind of boxy and not articulated very well? The V-Max reminds me of that enlarged to full size. Ton of fun though.

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  11. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    7) Yamaha FZ1- arguably the best performing bike on this list, and one that has garnered rave reviews from pretty much ever report on it. Looks too much like an insect to me- the fairing sticks out way too much up front and there’s too much space between the handlebars and the back of the fairing. And while the R1 engine is one of the real jewels of motorcycling, it’s a fairly unattractive engine. The looks just don’t work for me at any level.

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  12. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    6) Can’t let Harley off the hook. There are some v-twin factory customs that just shouldn’t be made. Harley’s popular Wide Glide is such a bike- along with ones that I consider similar: Kawasaki’s Vulcan, Suzuki’s Intruder, and Yamaha’s Virago. Must be the handlebars. These are or were all great or long term sellers though.

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  13. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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  14. wpbarlow

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  15. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    5) Hard to choose between the Kawasaki 454LTD, Honda Rebel, and Suzuki Savage for leading a category that I call the small displacement parallel twin or single chopper. Maybe it’s a result of Harley’s mighty marketing machine, but there’s just something wrong about non v-twin choppers; especially when parallel twins or singles, and more so when the displacement is small. As an aside, there are a ton of late 70’s early 80’s inline 4 cruisers. Consider them in this category, but I’m too tired to look through them all to pick just a couple. They all suck.

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  16. wpbarlow

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  17. wpbarlow

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  18. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    4) Ok, getting down to some real particular bikes here- no category picks anymore. 1975 Suzuki RE5 Rotary- this bike was doomed from the start because it had just about the most unattractive engine ever put into a motorcycle intended for a mass market. Suzuki compounded the problem by giving it a weird Harold circular taillight and instrument cluster setup complete with a transparent blue cover and then finished it off with their idea of “fast” sidecovers. Though they still had the engine issue to deal with, they cleaned up the rest of the design for the 1976-7 model years and it looked pretty good. But not enough to save it. Much good came out of it though, as this was arguably the best handling large Japanese bike of its time (honestly), and Suzuki assigned the frame designer to the subsequent GS750 project; which is considered Japan’s first world class handling large streetbike.

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  19. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    Just so you could see the other side of the engine...

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  20. wpbarlow

    wpbarlow Long timer

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    3) Bimota Mantra- provides the combination of perhaps the most weirdly styled bike ever to reach production from a manufacturer know especially for beautiful bikes. Time has done nothing to soften the assault on my sensibilities to a level that I find surprising in an inanimate object. It’s the headlight/fairing that just sets the tone for the rest of the bike, and its off key to me. Bimota was ahead of the pack in figuring that the world could use a distinctive semi naked sportbike and sold quite of few (relatively speaking) based on that; but I doubt if many were sold based purely on the visuals.

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